The last turbulent months have demanded all my attention, so I've paused for a while the development of my board game: Into the Quest! (name still to decide).
But that doesn't mean that I totally stopped to think about it or that all my projects about it have been deleted, on the contrary!
Now more than ever I'm aware of how important is to release a game and finally give shape to my original plans. After all, all my minis have been designed mainly for that.
In these last months, I found some time to reread everything about the game I've put on paper 'till now, and despite I think that some parts have to be reinvented, I've been nicely surprised by myself that still, I like what I did. Which is something rare, for what concerns my projects.
So, now that my daily life seems to have settled a bit, I've decided it's time to move to the next step and make things more...real.
I'm so excited but also nervous about it because as long as the game was a kind of theoretical project to fantasize about, I felt like I had in front of me endless possibilities. But now that I have to give shape to a real product, I have to make hard decisions that might decree both the success and failure of this journey.
I know myself: if I have three open doors in front of me, I'm not able to decide what door to go through. For this reason, I decided to break the tie, close all the doors except one and move straight to something more tangible and real: the game's starter set.
CHOOSE A SETTING
The first thing to do is to decide on a theme, a setting.
It's a crucial decision because this detail will deeply affect the whole aesthetic of the product, the miniatures we will design for it and, consequently, their rules and specific game mechanics.
I spent months, thinking about that: the possibilities, after all, are almost infinite
I searched for a theme that could enhance the unique lore I'm writing for my fantasy universe, but I didn't want something too specific, because I wanted that also people not aware of Inneath or DPF in general, could understand without problems.
I wanted a theme that could fit well with all the factions that we have already designed and will design (Dwarves, Second Government, Elves, Orcs and, with a bit of luck, Necrogangsters).
I wanted a setting crazy enough to surprise you, but not too odd.
After many ideas, I've come to the final decision: Big trouble at Pluton-5921!
The first season of Into the Quest! will be set in an abandoned (and for good reasons!) Magic Refinery.
Magic is a classic fantasy trope, so anybody who's interested in fantasy would easily interact with such a thematic. However, magic in Inneath is something more similar to oil&nuclear power, than old men and women with weird hats and wooden sticks.
In Inneath, magic is a natural (?) resource that has to be extracted from the ground, then processed with complex and extremely dangerous alchemic/scientific methods in enormous industrial structures.
Pluton-5921, in fact, is the code-name of one of those factories where, almost literally, magic happens. Or we should say it was.
A mysterious incident, in fact, almost blew up the entire structure, causing not only brutal devastation nearby but also a huge leak of raw magic, a fact that forced the Second Government authorities to close the whole island and declare it condemned.
However, despite setting foot on the island and being caught there without permission being punishable by arrest and extremely dangerous, travelers and adventurers all over the world risk their lives to jump the fences of Pluton-5921 and explore its radioactive ruins.
Raw magic is one of the highest requested materials, in Inneath, and you can sell them at a high price on the black market. Moreover, it is said that Pluton-5921 was more than a simple Magic Refinery, but hid a secret military research&developement laboratory: if it's true, raw magic wouldn't be the most precious thing to steal/recover!
DEVELOP THE ACTUAL SET
Once decided on the main theme, all the other details of the starter set flowed from my mind without effort.
First of all, I imagined the three initial factions that will play their cards in the dangerous ruins of Pluton-5921: a mixed squad of Dwarves and Second Government characters, an Orc crew and a stealthy clan of Elves.
Dwarves/Humans and Orcs will be the two playable factions inside the box, the Elves will arrive soon after, maybe as an add-on to the KS campaign.
The Dwarves/Humans' crew represents a specialized task force, sent by the Second Government, with a task to recover precious documents and a mysterious item whose loss in the wrong hands would be a menace to the world's existence itself.
The Orcs' crew comes directly from Urghor's third fleet: captain Raskal "the arsonist" was given the crucial task of taking as much raw magic and weapon as possible.
Finally, the Elves' crew has the crucial task of stopping the raw magic leak and preventing anyone from entering Pluton-5921, especially for what concerns the underground levels: no one must see the ancient runes that adorn the walls around the central core...
NOT ONLY ADVENTURERS.
The two (or more) players won't be the only actors on the scene. In fact, Pluton-5921 has been abandoned by any living being that survived the incident, but that doesn't mean that it is completely inhabited. When the factory still operated, Pluton-5921 was guarded by an incredibly advanced system of mechanical sentinels. Why not just soldiers? you would ask.
Well, mechanical sentinels don't need to be fed, paid do not get tired or scared and, apparently, they can also survive a little apocalypse and keep doing the job they are programmed for.
The starter set, in fact, will include a set of mechanical sentinels, which would represent a kind of NPC faction (but I'm studying a way to make them also playable by an external player).
The Mechanical Sentinels will be a pain in the ass for the players, and I designed them not only to represent an additional challenge in-game but also as an interesting way to add more dimension to the match itself: sometimes, the two (or more) players would have to decide whether to collaborate or not, in order to fulfill their objectives and prevail over the Mechanical Sentinels.
There will be four different types of Sentinels:
-MKIV "Guardsman" type. Shooty, not extremely resistant but annoying for sure. The little soldier in the Hounds of Zorn Uzul set, is an MKIV type.
-MKVII "Healer" type. They support other Sentinels, repairing them and giving them more resistance.
-MKVIII "Erinys" type. Mid-boss, it can fly and is extremely annoying to destroy.
-MKX "Colossus" type. The final boss of the game, a towering mecha that would make Hideo Kojima proud.
The NPC mechanics I'm developing (nothing unseen before, I will make them activate through a classic system of cards to draw) should work also to give the game also a "solo" mode, which is always interesting in my opinion (even just for training your game strategy).
Another crucial detail of the product I have in mind. I'm developing a game where scenics are extremely important: fences, barricades, explosive traps, raised surfaces...scenics element are the key to enjoy this game!
The main scenic elements of the starter set will be represented by barricades. I'm studying a modular set to create many different layouts. I don't know if it will be produced in resin, I fear it might be too expensive. Instead, I would like to try PVC or soft plastic for the first time.
Probably, also a cheap cardboard version would be interesting, maybe for a kind of "low-budget set". However, those are details that I will face later.
I dream about a double-sided version, of the board itself (which will be made with classic thick cardboard): one side representing the outdoor environment of the factory, the other side representing the underground floors of Pluton-5921.
My only concern is that, for obvious reason, the scenic elements of the outdoor should be different from those of the underground leves, and this might be an issue for what concerns production costs. But let's proceed one step at time.
If there is one thing that the previous KS campaigns taught me, is that plans are made just for being destroyed. Said so, I can't just cruise at sight with such an important and complex project so I have to establish a kind of schedule.
My idea is the following:
•Have a first complete draw of the game core-rules and starter set characters at the end of 2022 (let's call it the alfa version).
•Start playtesting with a closed group of hardcore gamers in the first half of 2023.
•Have a beta-version ready for the second half of 2023 and open a dedicated place in this website to collect players willing to help us playtesting it.
•Launch the campaign to fund the starter set in 2024.
So, as my French friends would say: les jeux sont faits!
I know that things seem still vague and indefinite, but this is only because my English sucks and I struggle immensely to give shape to my toughts, so I have to explain myself in the most essential way. I will soon start to create the first prototype of the tableboard and scenic elements, of course I will share with you all the progress of this journey.
In the meantime, what do you think about these first details?
PS: if you're wondering what does 5921 mean, well...it's just my daughter's birthday date :P